By Daniel D. Ziegler

"....we are constantly being bombarded by Madison Avenue and
the advertising industry with messages of how we are to look,
act, dress, behave and feel...."

Chapter 2 NUDISM: What's the Appeal?

PEOPLE OFTEN SHOW UP at a nudist park the first time not sure of why
they came. I know this is true because, working at such a park for a year, I
had the opportunity to ask hundreds of people why they came. "I don't
know, always been curious, I guess." was often the answer. Asking them
the same question as they returned for a second or third visit often brought
answers almost as vague but not quite. "It just feels good" or "I enjoy the
freedom" were frequently heard from new and not-so-new nudists.

What is the appeal of nudism? What initially brings people to a nudist park
and what draws them back? The answers to these two questions are
probably closely related.

Let's look at what brings them in the first place. I believe that there is within
each of us a desire to return home to our Original State. By Original State I
am not only referring to our natural or physical state but our spiritual origins
as well. Spiritually and physically we want to return home. This State is
sometimes seen as the innocence to which we want to return or the child
within us that wants to emerge. Whatever we call it, the desire to return to
this State seems to be a very basic part of each of us, although the degree
to which we let it express itself varies among us.

At the spiritual level, meditation, prayer and ritual are often used to help us
return us to that blissful State or our origin. They leave us with a sense of
freedom and well-being. By practicing or participating in these activities,
we are honoring our feelings of wanting to return to our Original State.

I believe that the curiosity or desire to explore the clothes-free lifestyle
stems from the inner desire of wanting to return to our natural physical
state. Skinny-dipping as a child is an example of this desire being played
out. Many nudists are drawn into the lifestyle by memories of these
childhood experiences. Being nude outdoors, experiencing the wind, water
and warmth appeals to our sensual nature and leaves us with a sense of
freedom and well-being, and again, we are honoring ourselves.

There is another factor relating to our physical nature that I feel comes into
play when someone decides to try nude recreation or the nude lifestyle.
This factor is the pressure exerted on us by the textile world or the world of
wearing clothes. Let's look at what is expected of us: In the world of textiles,
we are constantly being bombarded by Madison Avenue and the
advertising industry with messages of how we are to look, act, dress,
behave and feel and it is implied that if we don't live up to these
expectations, i.e., look or dress or act or feel a certain way, there is
something wrong with us. We are flawed. Then we begin to compare
ourselves with the models on the screen and in the magazines rather than
with real people, and we begin to further dislike ourselves, believing that
only the flawless deserve a high measure of self-esteem.

Next, we often try to fix ourselves--many times with diets or exercises that
are ineffective or even dangerous. Then, when we fail at some of these
self-defeating programs, we feel even worse about ourselves. Not only do
we feel we do not have perfect bodies, but we as a person have failed as
well. And often the cycle continues. What a heavy trip.

By the time a person decides to go to a nudist park and take their clothes
off, a major shift has already occurred inside them to bring them to that
frame of mind of wanting something different. A feeling of discontent,
perhaps unconscious, already exists and something inside--that inner
desire to return home--is stirring. When we find ourselves in that frame of
mind, it is as if we have had enough societal pressure and phoniness and
we have decided to answer the inner call. We decide to take the plunge.

What happens there? Something quite unexpected. We expect a shock
like in shock therapy but there isn't one. The sky doesn't fall, God doesn't
strike us dead, in fact nothing shocking happens. Absolutely none of the
preconceived notions, imagined or not imagined, happen. We're just there,
with other people who are also nude and nothing has happened. This is the
adjustment period--a very short period of time it takes to realize that
nothing is going to happen. It generally takes less than a minute to adjust.
That's it!

After the initial non-shock comes the reward for all your anxious minutes,
hours or even days of anticipated shock. What you see is more people just
like you, some too fat, too tall, too short, too skinny, some with too much
cellulite, others with missing parts, some tanned, some wrinkled, some
young, some old, some this and some that and somewhere among all
those people is the you that you once didn't like very well. But perhaps for
the first time in your life, you're not thinking of flaws. The sun and the breeze
on your skin occupy your conscious thoughts.

At deeper levels are feelings of being free of thoughts of how you are
supposed to look, and free of the untruths about yours or anybody else's
body, being ugly. Now you see just bodies, no perfect bodies and no ugly
bodies, just bodies, each housing a beautiful spiritual being who is
interested in you--not in what you're wearing or what you do, not in what you
are driving but in you as a person--interested in JUST YOU, GOD'S
CREATION. And you realize, "Hey, I'm okay!. I'm really okay!. I'm okay just
the way I am." You want to shout, "I'm OKAY!!!"

And somewhere inside you say, "I'M HOME."

A healing has taken place. To suddenly see oneself as okay is to be
healed. "It just feels good" and "I enjoy the freedom" now take on more
meaning as we now have the answer to the second part of the original
question, What draws people back? Being healed draws people back, and
often brings on feelings a sense of freedom that sometimes can feel

Beyond these words, however, it is very difficult to pinpoint all the feelings
that come into play and just as difficult to put them into words. Words often
leave us short when it comes to describing profound experiences. Then
too, most nudists don't feel a need to explain it further--to themselves air to
anyone else. It feels good, they feel free, so they honor themselves and just
do it. * * *
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Reclaiming Acceptance of our Original State